Archie Goodwin & Snap Malek–Twins Separated at Birth?

Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough

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Since I began writing the Steve “Snap” Malek Chicago historical mysteries for Echelon Press nearly a decade ago, several readers have commented that the brash Malek, a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune, bore a decided similarity to the equally brash Archie Goodwin, the narrator of the Nero Wolfe stories and Wolfe’s right-hand man.

Not surprising, because before publishing my five Malek books, I had written seven Nero Wolfe novels in the 1980s and ’90s, continuing the series created by the late Rex Stout. Had I purposely created Malek in Goodwin’s image, these readers asked? The answer: I’m not altogether sure.

Probably somewhere in my subconscious, I wanted to at least partially clone Archie Goodwin, whom I feel to be one of the most colorful and memorable characters in the history of American detective fiction. In Snap Malek, there are many parallels to Archie, along with marked differences.

Among the similarities: Both Archie and Snap are self-assured to the point of cockiness. Both are street-smart as well as steadfast in the face of danger. Both tend in their headstrong attitudes to rile their superiors–Nero Wolfe and the Chicago Tribune, respectively. And both have an ambivalent attitude toward the major law officer in their stories–New York Police Inspector Cramer and Chicago Police Detective Chief Fergus Fahey. (I also have been accused of fashioning Fahey into a carbon copy of Cramer; let me mull over that charge.)

As to some differences: Snap has battled alcoholism, Archie drinks only in moderation. Snap is married (for the second time), Archie is a bachelor, albeit with a longtime girlfriend, Lily Rowan. Snap lives in a suburban Chicago home, Archie dwells in that legendary brownstone in the heart of Manhattan.

Now that I am back to writing about Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin after an 18-year hiatus (“Archie Meets Nero Wolfe”), I wonder if readers who knew only of my Snap Malek stories will pick up this new book and ask me: Did you model this Archie Goodwin fellow on Snap Malek?

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13 Responses to Archie Goodwin & Snap Malek–Twins Separated at Birth?

  1. Marilyn Schaffer says:

    Thanks for sending this, and congratulations on the book. I really loved reading it. Best, Marilyn Schaffer Chair, The Assembly Program for the Nero Wolfe Pack.

    From: Robert Goldsborough Reply-To: Robert Goldsborough Date: Friday, December 14, 2012 11:44 AM To: Marilyn Subject: [New post] Archie Goodwin & Snap MalekTwins Separated at Birth?

    WordPress.com Karen Syed posted: ” Click Cover to Buy Now! Since I began writing the Steve “Snap” Malek Chicago historical mysteries for Echelon Press nearly a decade ago, several readers have commented that the brash M”

  2. Thanks for your kind comment about “Archie Meets Nero Wolfe,” Marilyn. It was great fun to write.

    Robert Goldsborough

    • Derrick E. says:

      Dear Mr. Goldsborough,

      I am so excited that this book and all of your Nero Wolfe mysteries are available for download on Kindle! I own the entire Rex Stout library on my Kindle, and I am so thrilled that I can now add all of your books to my collection to keep up with Wolfe’s antics. Thank you and keep up the great work!

  3. Thank you very much for your comments, Derrick.

    Robert Goldsborough

  4. Margaret B. says:

    I bought Archie Meets. . . For a Christmas gift for myself. Loved it! I hope to more of both the Nero Wolfe mysteries and Snap Malek in the near future. Thank you

  5. I appreciate your comments, Margaret. I am currently working on another Nero Wolfe mystery.

    Robert Goldsborough

  6. Kathy Schreck says:

    I really enjoyed this book. I hope your furture books will be set in the Nero and Archie early years.

  7. Jan Sorensen says:

    Dear Robert Goldsborough! I am a Dabnish fan of Rex Stout and met You at a crime fair in Chicago in Junem where You signed a copy of “Meets Nero Wolfe”. It is highly enjoyable and fun to read -I have to go to New York once again soon! Also Bronx where I have never been!
    One trifle of a detail on page 33, where Fritz sets just 3 cups (as well as the beer for Durkin and Wolfe). But there are four to share the coffee, so one must miss the coffee. Best rgds, Jan Sorensen,

    • I remember meeting you last summer at the Printers Row Book Fair, and that you were buying books to read on the plane back to Denmark. You have an eagle-eye! You and others caught my error regarding the number of cups of coffee, and it has been corrected in later editions. Thank you for your attention to detail. My next Nero Wolfe book, “Murder at the Ball Park,” set in New York City about 1950, will be out in late January and available on Amazon.

      Sincerely,
      Robert Goldsborough

  8. Actually, I think that Det. Chief Fergus Fahey is quite different from Cramer; Fahey and Malek banter, but they are, at bottom, more overt in their mutual respect and liking for each other than Wolfe and Cramer. And Fahey’s relationships with other journalists (when forced to) makes that even more clear, as does his grousing that Snap didn’t ask out Fahey’s secretary when he had the chance. Of course, I seem to remember a one-time reference to Cramer having Fergus as a name, but otherwise, I think Fahey is vey much his own man.

    • Dear Mr. Wirenius,

      You have to remember that the dynamic between Archie and Cramer is different from that between Malek and Fahey. Archie and Cramer have what is essentially an adversarial relationship, both of them hunting criminals, but in differing ways. Malek is a reporter covering the police department, Fahey’s bailiwick, and from my experience as a newspaper police reporter, reporters and cops usually got along quite well. If Cramer were to have a working relationship with a reporter, chances are he would show an entirely different personality than he does vis-à-vis Archie. That’s a long-winded way of saying that from my perspective, Cramer and Fahey are really quite similar, wehich is how I planned it. You are right that once in a Wolfe story by Rex Stout, Cramer was referred to as “Fergus” (which is where I got Fahey’s first name). But more than once in the Stout stories, he was called “L.T. Cramer.” That’s where I got the idea to call him Lionel T. Cramer.

      Thanks for your observations,
      Robert Goldsborough

      • Thanks for the reply, Mr.Goldsborough, and I hadn’t thought of the differing roles and relationships Cramer plays in different contexts (I quite liked your extrapolation of Lionel T. Cramer, and have adopted as canonical even when I read Stout). I appreciate your kindness and engagement with readers; time to read Murder at the Ballpark next!

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